The press conference, attended by local officials including State Senator Mario Mattera (R-St. James), State Senator Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk), Assemblyman Ed Flood (R-Port Jefferson Station), Assemblyman Joe DeStefano (R-Medford), Assemblyman Jarett Gandolfo (R-Sayville), and Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio (R-Baiting Hollow), other community leaders including Assistant District Attorney Maureen McCormick, and advocates for traffic safety, underscored the pressing need for legislative reforms to ensure justice for victims and their families. “Nick’s Law,” named in memory of Nicholas Puzio, a twenty-five-year-old pedestrian tragically killed in a hit-and-run incident last year when he was hit by not one but two vehicles that left the scene, seeks to impose stricter penalties on drivers who flee the scene of such accidents.

Senator Murray, a staunch advocate for traffic safety and the author of “Nick’s Law,” delivered an impassioned speech highlighting the devastating impact of hit-and-run accidents on families and communities.

“It’s clear that people are afraid of getting in additional trouble for being drunk, impaired or just plain reckless, so they flee the scene, thinking they are somehow escaping serious consequences. By passing Nick’s Law, we will hopefully change that line of thinking,” remarked Senator Murray.

The proposed legislation increases penalties for drivers who leave the scene of an accident that results in serious injury or death, including longer periods of driver’s license suspension, hefty fines, and imprisonment. Senator Murray emphasized that the current penalties do not adequately reflect the severity of these crimes or deter future incidents. Murray held a similar press conference last summer hoping for the bill to be made law in the 2024 legislative session, but Albany did not pick it up this year.

Joining Senator Murray at the press conference were Christopher Hlavaty’s parents, a young man who just weeks ago passed away in a similar incident and was a volunteer firefighter with the Hageman Fire Department. They shared their heartbreaking journey since their son’s untimely death, their support for “Nick’s Law” and the hope that no parent would have to go through a tragedy like this in the future stating a law like this “can save lives”.

“Two drivers made reckless choices and left my son dying in the street. Who does that? Does anyone have regard for human life?” said Terry Puzio, Nick’s mother. “The laws in New York are far too lenient. Unfortunately, the current punishment doesn’t seem to deter the crime”.

(Photo: Cait Crudden) New York State Assemblyman expresses his support for “Nick’s Law” during a press conference at Hagerman Fire Department. Also pictured (left to right): New York State Assemblyman Joe DeStefano and New York State Senators Anthony Palumbo. Dean Murray and Mario Mattera.

Residents and community members expressed strong support for “Nick’s Law” and Senator Murray’s efforts to champion traffic safety. Senator Murray’s proposal is a crucial step towards ensuring accountability and protecting vulnerable road users. Co-sponsors of the bill in the Assembly are Assemblyman Ed Flood (pictured above) and Assemblyman Doug Smith (R-Holbrook).

“Everyone should feel safe on the road, whether you are behind the wheel or simply crossing the street,” said Flood. “People need to be human beings to one another. Unfortunately, Nick was hit by two separate drivers. Had either one of them simply just stopped and did what the law abides and did what just simply humanity abides we might not be here today”.

“When someone is hurt at the scene of an accident, every moment counts in helping to save a life,” said Assemblyman Smith in a statement.

Senator Murray concluded the press conference by calling on his legislative colleagues to prioritize “Nick’s Law” when they are called back to session and urging residents to contact their representatives to voice their support.

“There is little doubt that the state legislature will be called back to Albany in the coming weeks or months to address some unfinished business. We are calling on Legislative Leaders to make Nick’s Law a part of that unfinished business,” said Murray.

As “Nick’s Law” gains momentum in the New York State Legislature, the focus remains on ensuring justice for victims of hit-and-run accidents and implementing measures that enhance traffic safety statewide. Senator Dean Murray’s unwavering commitment to advancing this critical legislation signals a promising step forward in protecting the well-being and rights of all New Yorkers.